Lifting the rug

Mental health is part of our world, our community, our family, ourselves. We cannot escape from it because mental health is part of who we are just as is our physical and spiritual health. It is part of that which makes us human, and it is this condition of humanity which I would like to address this coming Sunday.

World Mental Health Day is officially October 10th and this Sunday is the nearest that we have to that date. So, I am initiating a new date in our lectionary, Mental Health Sunday. Instead of using the readings from common lectionary, I am applying specific texts for this special theme. I don’t know if there is any evidence to suggest that church communities are better at talking about mental health than any other community or group? I would like to raise awareness that mental health is normal, that stigmatising it is dangerous and avoidance of it is lethal.

This illustration from a blog site might well give a flavour of the importance of addressing mental health issues with trusted friends and relations:

“I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk about mental health so all the issues I was dealing with were swept under the rug. I was always told to pray about it because prayer solved everything and I knew/felt that wasn’t true. I wanted to talk about it and find out why I felt the way I did or why I hurt myself, physically and mentally, the way I did, but no one in my family wanted to help me with that.”

The church is a place which permits the marriage of psychology and theology, in fact, this relationship is nothing other than divine. God is at work in body, mind and spirit. If we neglect one of these core parts which is essential to common humanity, we negate the gift of life. Let’s not sweep this deep aspect of human experience under the carpet. Christians strive to become liberated from the constraints of the world. Addressing mental health issues is fundamental to our growth as followers of Christ. We will need to be contemplative, courageous and compassionate as we help ourselves, our family, our community and our world listen without judgment. What might this lead to? Maybe a place where feelings are shared – the shadow of the cross; the gathering around the altar; the pilgrimage into prayer. We are all situated on the mental health continuum, it’s part of who we are.
 I hope you will be able to come to St Michael’s this Sunday – 8am, 10am & 6.30pm. For more information click here.

Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.